Tips for transportation and arrival to the Buenos Aires International Airport
After a long, possibly cramped flight to Buenos Aires, the last thing anyone wants is to run into problems at the airport. Here’s a quick guide to help you get through the international Buenos Aires airport, present all your transportation options and on your way to enjoying your time in Buenos Aires!
After disembarking your plane, you will be immediately ushered through immigration. Be prepared, as depending on the number of flights arriving at the same time, you may stand in line for a while. Don’t forget to fill out the immigration form they give you on the plane. If you are Canadian, American or Australian you will have to pay a one time Argentinian tourist visa fee that lasts for 10 years. These can be paid online in advance at the Provincia Pagos web page.
Once you are through immigration, you will then need to retrieve your luggage. Just grab a free luggage cart (yes, they really are free), collect your bags and make your way to the customs inspectors. Don’t be surprised if you get waved through customs without inspection, as they scan the bags of incoming foreign tourists less often. They will be looking for electronics and other highly taxed items that are new that Argentinians tend to bring in. There is a 50% tax on new items for locals above $300 USD.
The next task at hand, if you haven’t already made airport transportation arrangements, will be to get cash and find a taxi. DO NOT change dollars at the money changing stations in the airport because they will give you a low rate of exchange AND charge an additional service fee. Instead, find an ATM (cajero) in the arrivals lobby of the airport and extract what you need.
With pesos in hand, you will then be ready to find a ride to your hostel, hotel or apartment. To do so, you have several options: remise, airport taxi, illegal taxi, airport shuttle or public bus. Here’s a brief breakdown of your options:
Remise – a private car, much like a taxi, but without the cool yellow and black paint. Hiring a remise will cost you around $60 USD. A small tip is nice if your driver helps you with your bags or is friendly and offers good advice. If you want, you can hire airport transportation through us ahead of time and have a driver waiting for you with a sign at the exit of baggage inspection. The drivers are all bilingual, drive relatively new vans and you will not have to wait in line to hire a driver.
Generally speaking remises are the safest (you know the company you hired) means of transportation, they are paid in advance and know the address and destination. If you rather hire one in the moment rather than book one before you fly then use the booths inside of the airport. You may have to wait a bit, but they are safer than the stands outside or the rogue taxis outside.
Taxi – Taxis will cost you a bit less than remise or at least in theory. The stands outside have a mixed reputation of good and bad, fair and rip off. Use your better judgement. Ask what the rate is at one of the inside booths is (inflation here constantly changes the prices so it is hard for even us to keep up) and do a bit of compare and contrast.
I used to like to walk to the departure area and hail a guy on his way out. He is going to have an empty taxi all the way back to Buenos Aires so you will have some serious bargaining room. You’ll have to act fast though- the police will try to usher him out quickly after the drop off of his original passenger.
Illegal Taxis – After walking through the doors to the curbside waiting area, you will find a line of remises waiting at the Manuel Tienda Leon cabin, a line of official yellow taxis waiting for their next clients, as well as a line of men dressed in casual wear. If you wait just a minute or two at least one of these men will approach you and offer you a ride into town. This is actually an illegal business offer, as official airport taxis are the only ones technically allowed to do business at the airport. But if you’re sly, your Spanish isn’t too bad, and you want to save a few pesos, take one of these guys up on their offer. An illegal taxi ride should cost less than hiring an official taxi.
Airport Shuttle Bus – Manuel Tienda Leon offers an inexpensive airport transportation option to the city center. The shuttle costs around a third of what taxis and remises cost and runs every hour. This shuttle will take you between the airport and Manuel Tienda Leon’s headquarters, located at the intersection of Avenidas Madero and San Martín in downtown Buenos Aires. Keep in mind that this drop-off spot will likely require you to hire an additional taxi to take you and your luggage to your hostel, hotel or apartment.
Public Bus (colectivo) – Line 86 of the local public bus transportation system also runs regularly from the airport. The bus is your cheapest option, by far (costing you just $2.50 pesos). There are several drawbacks to this most affordable option, however. First, if you have luggage, it will be a cramped public bus ride into the city. Second, the 86 will slowly lumber into town and will take at least an hour and a half. And third, the colectivos only accept payment in coin form or with a SUBE card. The 86 will take you all the way to Plaza de Mayo, a major landmark of Buenos Aires and a great place to start your travel experience. Disembark the bus at the Plaza, take a quick glimpse of the Casa Rosada, the Catedral Metropolitana and the Cabildo, and make your way to the nearby subway (subte) station to get to your hostel, hotel or apartment.